A government ban on international cruising is to be lifted from next Monday 2 August, transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced – to the delight of cruise industry bosses and travellers alike.
Mr Shapps tweeted the news that the Foreign Office (FCDO) restriction advising ‘against cruise ship travel at this time’ – which had been in place since July 2020 due to the Covid pandemic – is to be amended.
Now travellers will be told that they need to ‘understand the risks associated with cruise travel and take personal responsibility for their own safety on board.’
The news was welcomed by the entire cruise sector with Andy Harmer, managing director, UK & Ireland, of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) saying the decision was ‘very good news for the industry.’
He said that the success of this summer’s staycation cruises around Britain had led the way adding: ‘The cruise industry has worked intensively during the last 18 months in collaboration with the Government, health authorities, ports and other industry bodies to develop enhanced protocols that protect guests, crew and the destinations we visit.’
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) agreed that domestic cruises had successfully proved that health protocols worked, but warned that more needed to be done to support the travel industry’s recovery.
‘ABTA welcomes today’s announcement that international cruising can restart from England, which follows the successful operation of a number of domestic cruises around the UK over recent weeks,’ a spokesperson said, ‘and we’re glad the government has produced updated guidance to assist passengers and the industry.
‘However, the industry is not out of the woods and there is more that needs to be done to support travel businesses through to recovery.
‘We also need to see the Government make further progress on making testing more affordable and proportionate, and we need to see more destinations added to the Green list at next week’s review. We are still seeing other countries reopen more quickly than the UK and we need to capitalise on the success of the vaccine rollout by getting our international travel industry moving again.’
Nick Stace, CEO of Saga Travel, said the news came after everyone in the cruise industry has been working ‘tirelessly to create the safest possible environment’ on board.
‘It is a huge boost to receive the news that we will once again be able to welcome guests on non-domestic voyages,’ he said. ‘Our customers have been eagerly awaiting certainty from Government so they can plan their cruises beyond UK shores and today’s news will give them the clarity they need to do that.’
Bucket List Voyages
Cruise lovers have been desperate to get back on board and head to sunnier climes after Covid brought the cruise industry to a shuddering halt 16 months ago.
After three lockdowns, many travellers have been booking ahead to secure their bucket list voyages – leading to a 132-night Regent Seven Seas world tour in 2024 to sell out within three hours of going on sale.
‘Sales have definitely picked up over the course of the last few weeks and this announcement will no doubt give customers greater confidence to start cruising again.’ James Cole, Panache Cruises
‘This is another significant step forward in the restart of international cruising,’ said James Cole, founder and managing director of luxury cruise retailer, Panache Cruises. ‘Sales have definitely picked up over the course of the last few weeks and this announcement will no doubt give customers greater confidence to start cruising again.’
Princess Cruises’ vice president, UK & Europe, Tony Roberts said the cruise line would be resuming international cruises on Regal Princess and Sky Princess from Southampton at the end of September.
‘As always the safety and wellbeing of our crew, guests and destinations we visit remain our top priority,’ he said. ‘Our vaccination and testing policies will remain in place for these cruises and will be reviewed on a regular basis as the global situation continues to evolve.’
International cruising on sister line P&O Cruises will start on Britannia and Iona on 25 September, with the former sailing to the Mediterranean and the latter to Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands.
Sun, Sand and Sea
Families desperate for some summer sun can finally book a foreign cruise. Image: Shutterstock
P&O Cruises’ president Paul Ludlow said: ‘This is the news we have been working towards and cannot wait to welcome guests back on board.’
Ryan Johnston, Managing Director of holiday firm Destinology.co.uk said the announcement was good news for families desperate for some sun, sand and sea.
‘The decision means that families can enjoy an international cruise for the first time since the government slapped a blanket advisory against it almost 16 months ago,’ he said.
‘Families are desperate to have a relaxing holiday overseas, and we’ve seen bookings for this summer and next year rocket over the past weeks as optimism returned.
‘With more Britons double-jabbed than nearly anywhere else, it’s time for people to be allowed to go and enjoy a bit of foreign sun.’